PM Imran Khan meets Iranian President Rouhani in Tehran

Prime Minister Imran Khan met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the Presidential Palace in Tehran on Monday during a two-day official visit to Iran.

During their meeting, Prime Minister Imran and President Rouhani discussed the entire spectrum of bilateral relations and ways to further ties in diverse fields, Radio Pakistan reported.

Earlier today, the prime minister arrived at the Presidential Palace where he was received by the Iranian president. The national anthems of both countries were played during the welcoming ceremony, after which Prime Minister Imran inspected a guard of honour.

PM Imran Khan is visiting Iran in a bid to strengthen ‘trust’ between the two neighbouring countries on the invitation of President Rouhani.

He is expected to meet Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Khamenei and other top government functionaries today.

The premier reached Iran on Sunday and paid his respects at the shrine of Imam Raza during a brief stopover in Mashhad. He also met the leadership of the Khorasan-i-Razavi province, and told them that maintaining good relations with neighbours was the cornerstone of his government policy.

The premier is accompanied by two ministers, an adviser and three special assistants holding portfolios of human rights, maritime affairs, commerce, overseas Pakistanis, health services, and petroleum.

Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari, Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, Adviser to PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Special Assistant to PM on Overseas Pakistanis Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, Special Assistant to PM on National Health Services Dr Zafarullah Mirza and Special Assistant to PM on Petroleum Nadeem Baber are all a part of the Pakistani delegation.

Mr Khan was initially scheduled to visit Iran in January, but it was reportedly postponed at the eleventh hour due to unexplained reasons though the Foreign Office did issue a statement highlighting that Pak-Iran relations were “marked by close historic and cultural linkages and strong people-to-people exchanges”.

The relations have, however, had a bad patch as well due to security issues along the border. There was a brief bonhomie in ties after Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa’s unprecedented visit to Iran in November 2017.

According to diplomatic sources, border security issues will be on top of PM Khan’s agenda in Tehran, especially the April 18 terror attack in Ormara in which 14 armed forces personnel were killed. Following the massacre, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) lodged a strong protest with Iran over its inaction against the terror groups believed to be involved in the Ormara killings.

In a letter written to the Iranian embassy on Friday, the MoFA stated: “Killing of 14 innocent Pakistanis by terrorist groups based in Iran is a very serious incident that Pakistan protests strongly.”

Media reports said 15-20 terrorists camouflaged themselves in Frontier Corps uniform, barricaded the road and stopped three to four buses travelling from Ormara to Gwadar on the coastal highway at Buzi Top before dawn on April 18.

On the identification of the passengers, 14 personnel belonging to the armed forces were shot dead, including Navy, Air Force and Coast Guards personnel.

According to the ministry’s letter, “BRAS” — an alliance of three terrorist organisations — claimed responsibility for the terrorist act. The government said the terrorists had arrived from the border region and returned to the area following the incident.

Among other important issues, including border security, the Pak-Iran Gas Pipeline project is also expected to come under discussion between the two sides.

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